Cuddles is dying.
I need your help.





This is an emergency post. It is not what I planned, scheduled or hoped to be talking about today. It will not be my best piece of writing but it is one of my most important.

In fact I don’t even want to type the words out.

But Cuddles is dying.

Last Tuesday I went out into the run and the normally wildly active and friendly Cuddles was hiding under a tree. Just laying there.

By Wednesday she hadn’t improved at all and wasn’t eating or drinking. She wasn’t moving. Otherwise she looked healthy. No signs of a cold or any respiratory problems. Nice red comb. She had laid an egg only a few days earlier. But I knew when I looked at her. Cuddles was dying.

Her poop was minuscule bits of green (bile filled) dry blobs. From what I could tell she had no swelling in her crop or abdomen.

So I ran up to my local feed store and got her some electrolytes (to replenish the liquid, vitamins and minerals she needed) and some penicillin in case she had any sort of infection that could be cleared up.

The horrible, horrible sad thing about chickens is generally when they get sick, they die.

They’re prone to cancer, egg binding, impacted crops, egg yolk peritonitis, prolapsed vents, respiratory illnesses and a litany of other things that can, and often do lead to death.

By Thursday Cuddles’ poop looked like this.



Sorry for the graphic photo, but really I don’t care. I just care about finding some sort of help for Cuddles.

After a day of antibiotics and electrolytes Cuddles was feeling MUCH better. She was up and moving around and drinking. Still no eating though. For the next couple of days she got even better and would peck angrily at the younger chickens, drink and eat (but only her favourite foods). I could coax her to eat preserved crickets, corn on the cob, oatmeal and a bit of her feed. She’d peck and scratch at the dirt like she normally does, looking for bugs. Her poops were not large, but back to normal with regular cecal matter and poopy stuff.

After 4 days I quit the antibiotics and electrolytes. That was today (I’m writing this Sunday night). She was active again today and scratching around in the dirt for bits of food, but will NOT eat her food and will not eat anything presented to her other than some fresh corn.

And her poops are back to this …


Like I said. For the most part, when chickens get sick, chickens die.

I know Cuddles is just a chicken. And I’m willing to let nature take it’s course if need be. I don’t want to prolong her life for my sake. But there are 2 things I won’t do.

I will not give up trying to help her if I think there’s a chance she can recover.

And I will not allow her to suffer for weeks or even days. If she has no chance, I will have her put down.

I will not chop her head off, I will not break her neck. I just can’t. Cuddles sat in my lap for hours last summer when the fella left. The poor thing would be soaked in tears, but just shake them off and sleep in my lap. So no, off with her head is not an option here. But I will have her euthanized the same way I’ve had other pets I’ve loved. If I have to I’ll have Cuddles put to sleep.



Now is when I ask for your help.

I cannot find a vet that deals in poultry in my area. If you know of someone who deals with poultry in the Hamilton, Ontario region let me know. I would like Cuddles looked at and diagnosed so I can decide what to do. I will also need a vet to euthanize her when the time comes.

Also, if you are a chicken owner and these symptoms seem familiar to you, let me know. I know very little about poultry veterinary but I suppose it could be egg yolk peritonitis.

If you know anyone else who is an experienced chicken farmer please forward this post to them.

Synopsis and timeline of Symptoms

Day 1 – lethargic, not eating or drinking
Day 2 – lethargic, not eating or drinking. Dry, green pellet type poops. Started on electrolytes and penicillin.
Day 3 – energy back, eating a tiny bit and drinking. Fed some olive oil in case of blockage or crop issue. Poops that look like egg yolk with no solids. (however both her medications that I’ve been syringe feeding her are a bright yellow colour)
Day 4 – Great energy, playing a bit, eating anything when hand fed. Picking out only black sunflower seeds from scratch. Eating crickets, green beans, greens, yogourt, oatmeal, and a small amount of crumble when fed by hand and she got jealous when the other chickens were eating it. Discontinued use of electrolytes and penicillin at end of day.
Day 5 – Less energy but still up and moving around all day. Running to gate when she saw me. Uninterested in eating even her favourite foods other than a few specific seeds from scratch, weeds and raw corn on the cob. Crop felt almost empty before bed. Decided to give electrolytes just before she retired for the night.

I apologize for the horribly depressing and you know, gross post where you didn’t learn how to do anything or get a chance to laugh but it seemed stupid to have this kind of a forum and not use it to help Cuddles.

Thank you.


  1. Janine says:

    Hi Karen. I read your article because I was liking up the same symptoms.
    Did you ever find out what was wrong?
    I have a vet appt with my girl tomorrow. She’s my world. Her name is Mrs. Fancy Pants.
    I know it’s been many years since your previous post

    • Karen says:

      HI Janine. It ended up being egg yolk peritonitis. She lived for a few more years after receiving several resurrections from near death. I finally had her put to sleep when the last time she had a bout of it, it was clear she was not going to get better and was suffering. ~ karen!

      • Janine says:

        Awwww thankyou so much for replying.
        I’m sorry a it cuddles. I’m sure she knows the great life she had with you. I have a house chicken named Miss Fancy Pants who is the love of my life. She has an appt with a specialist tomorrow. I think she has this too. The symptoms are exactly the same. I’ve had her 4 years. I think she’s about 6 years old now. I’ll do anything to help her. Thanks for responding.

        My love to you and cuddles.

  2. pamela says:

    Hi. Just would like to know the update on this.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pamela. I’m afraid Cuddles has died, but she lived for another 2 years after this particular post. :) If you search Cuddles in my search bar at the top of the page you can read all about it. She was a good little chicken and we got through several more bouts before she finally couldn’t fight it off anymore. ~ karen!

      • pamela says:

        So sorry to hear this. My girl looks so similar to her and has the same symptoms. No Avian vets near and this is my third hen now that has the same symptoms, my other two died so I don’t have much hope. This girl is by far my favourite and I cannot figure out whats killing them. I will search because I’d love to know what she had. I need to stop this before my entire flock is gone. :(

      • Karen says:

        Sorry Pamela. I feel for you. But Egg Yolk Peritonitis (which is what Cuddles had) is not contagious. Merck’s disease is but it would also present with leg paralysis. Also look up Coccidiosis to see if the symptoms for that match your birds. Another thing you can look into is worms. Each has to be treated with a different antibiotic but if you can get any sort of general antibiotic it could help. For Cuddles I was using Apo Tetra 250 mg capsules (1/1000). If you have a friendly regular vet chances are they’ll prescribe it for you. Also different worms have different treatments you can’t just guess and treat. Check their Cecal matter for cecal worms (although cecal worms isn’t normally deadly and is quite normal in a small amount). Hope that helps a little bit. ~ karen!

      • Pamela says:

        Hi thanks for responding so soon! There isn’t an actual avian vet where we live and I can’t spend the money to take her to one in a city far away…. I’ve been reading a lot .. because I feel no one seems to have an answer for me. Its not just my fav girl right now who is sick. I’ve had 2 of my other friendly hens die from these same symptoms I’m seeing in this third one. It does sound a lot like what Cuddles had but it isn’t contagious. I did read that while it may not be contagious the underlying issue will be common to your flock….. i just can’t figure out what that problem is…. I have seen no signs of worms and my whole flock was dewormed with Ivermectin recently as a result of what we thought was lice. I’ve looked up Coccidiosis and some symptoms match but others don’t, they are also all atleast over a year old now and I know its more likely in chicks or pullets. Only saw blood in droppings in the one hen who I believe passed a lash egg and died shortly after. To add to the confusion this morning I found our second shell-less egg this week. It’s not my sick girl because she is separated from the flock and in the garage. So I’m wondering if this is a sign of another about to show the super sick symptoms my girl in the garage is….. One more strange thing: all my hens have been happy and healthy looking, laying eggs daily and laid even in winter when it was cold here…….

      • Pamela says:

        and I should add…. right up until death my hens eat and drink water. This one started off drinking tons of water and thats how I noticed she was ill. I see now she has slowed down to drinking what I think is a normal amount….. eating and wandering around. When the others died and I talked to a vet tech who talked to a vet… they didn’t think it was related and couldn’t figure out what it was…. so we kept thinking it was an isolated incident because the flock acted and looked so healthy. Doesn’t feel isolated anymore. I’m diligent in my coop cleaning, feeding and watering and general checking on the flock, they aren’t free range but are offered a healthy diet and lots of love.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Pamela! Depending on where you live the other thing I would look into is avian flu I’m afraid. It moves pretty quickly through a coop and kills quickly. I”m not entirely sure what the symptoms are but I’m sure you can Google it. :( Good luck! ~ karen

  3. Robin says:

    just spoke to a resident in our area and she raises chickens and says that wehen her chickens are not well she gives them a couple eye droppers full of Apricot Brandy.She says it really helps them out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Art of Doing Stuff